We now begin a study of the third temptation of Jesus (Matt. 4:8-11) and some lessons we can learn from it.
"Again the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory..." We do not know what mountain it was nor how the devil "took" Him there. From no mountain could one see the whole earth with the natural eye. The record says that Satan "showed" them to Him. Perhaps it was by a few brief words of description that would picture them to the imagination of Jesus and cause their glories to move before His eyes. But it is likely that to this description some sort of supernatural vision was added. This is indicated by Luke's statement that Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world "in a moment of time" (Luke 4:5). This was a temptation to Jesus to realize the dreams which the Jewish nation entertained. "All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:8). It was an appeal to Him to reveal Himself in the fullness of His power and authority as above generals, princes, kings and all beings of all ages. It was an appeal to obtain by physical means rather than by spiritual power; by the short-cut path of policy (com-promise) rather than by the long road of suffering and martyrdom. Jesus came to be king, ruler of all, and here Satan offers to make it possible in one great movement. He could become an earthly king or monarch over "all the kingdoms of the world" and Satan will provide it for Him. Luke puts it this way: "And the devil said to Him, 'I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You worship before me, it shall be Yours." Think of that offer and what it embraced. It could hardly be called a "temptation" unless Satan could have delivered on it. Early on in the work of Jesus, Satan offers Him an earthly rule or kingdom. This was not God's plan then and never has been. It is not now the plan of God for Christ to ever become an earthly king or monarch, ruling over "all the kingdoms of this world." Yet millions of sincere people, claiming to serve the Lord, are still trying to perpetuate that ancient temptation of the devil and accomplish in "the end time" what the devil failed to do at the beginning.
The tempter now uses new weapons. He has not been able to touch Jesus as Son; can he spoil Him as King? Can he reduce Jesus from the position of King of Kings in the spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of men to a mere earthly ruler over "all the kingdoms of the world?" Satan knew before Jesus ever said it that His "kingdom is not of this world?" His is "the kingdom (or reign) of (from) heaven." Jesus and Satan are arch rivals. Can they strike up a treaty? Jesus had come to reign as God's viceroy; can He now be induced, as a much quicker way of getting to His objective, to become Satan's ally? Satan's proposition is something like this: All these kingdoms of the world belong to him (cf. I John 5:19) and he is willing to turn them over to Jesus if Jesus will but place Himself under Satan; and settle for an earthly reign over "all the kingdoms of the world" rather than a spiritual reign over the hearts and lives of willing, obedient sub-jects. Satan offers to make Jesus the king just as God wanted, only an earthly rather than spiritual rule. Instead of the long, bitter road to the throne by suffering and death, this one short step will reach the crown. Perhaps from the standpoint of the humanity of Jesus, this was an over-whelming temptation. All the world's honors could be His and He could rule over "all the kingdoms of the world."
Satan claimed ownership of "all the kingdoms of the world," but the claim is not based on absolute owner-ship. It was a derived right - the people gave Satan such a rule and the kingdoms. He is called "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). It is true that Satan through his emissaries has, by usurpation, gained an apparent possession of the world in general. But the only rule or power that Satan has over anyone is the rule that is given him by the individual. John says that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (I John 5:19 NASV); but not because God has given or granted him such control. Satan has no in-herent right to such. His subjects are willing subjects and his power is derived from the consent and collaboration of those thus ruled (cf. Eph. 2:2). While Satan has gained an apparent possession of the world, Jesus had right to it as the heir of God (cf. Matt. 21:33-43). Being stronger than Satan, He had come to regain His kingdom (reign or rule), not by treaty, but by conquest (Luke 11:19-22). Moreover, He would obtain it as a spiritual and not as a carnal, earthly kingdom. Servants of Christ should remember this. Every attempt to establish Christ's reign (kingdom) as an outward, earthly dominion of "all the kingdoms of this earth" is an effort to convert the kingdom of heaven into the kingdom of the devil.
Long ago Jesus told Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world...My kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36). Do you believe what Jesus thus declared? His affirmation seems to be clear and positive. God's kingdom cannot be secularized - made earthly or like those of earth. His kingdom is not now nor will it ever be an earthly kingdom, in spite of all the current, erroneous claims to the contrary. Many talk incessantly of "the coming kingdom." According to this speculative theory and fabrication, based on a perversion of the Scriptures, Jesus is supposed to come back to this earth and after the "battle of Armegeddon" and the defeat of Satan and his forces, He will then rule over "all the kingdoms of the earth." This is the very same offer that Satan made to Jesus in the temptation. Its source is the same -Satan. The results are the same -turning the kingdom of heaven into an earthly reign over "all the kingdoms of this world."
"It is written": "My kingdom is not of this world." It was not to become that when He met the tempter. It will not become that when He comes again to claim His own - those in His kingdom, under His reign. What the devil proposed in the temptation is no different from what many claim Jesus will do when He comes the second time. - CAH.